And it felt great! I was supposed to go 28 days without running, but let's not dwell on that.
The nerve pain (sciatica-like) has been gone for about a week. The right hamstring at the very top in the butt area, remains tight and painful like a bruise. For the month that I was running after I injured my back, I couldn't lift and drive my right knee forward and swing the lower leg straight through. Instead I was folding the knee inward so it was actually rubbing against the left knee and then swinging the right lower leg and foot outwards to barely clear the ground with each stride. A lot of times it wasn't clearing the ground and I was stumbling and falling. This awkward stride has shortened and tightened the upper hamstring. This can be stretched and strengthened with time.
I have spent the last few days talking about trying to run. Today I felt I was ready. Kevin and I went to Bear Brook State Park for my test run. I was jumping around with a big smile on my face in the parking lot saying, "I feel good, I can run, Let's go! Come on." I probably looked like a hyperactive child. There's nothing like a little time off from running trails to feed the passion for it!
Kevin rode ahead on his mountain bike and led me over beautiful gently rolling singletrack. There were very few rocks and roots and it was a great place to try out the leg. I had absolutely no referred back pain, just the tightness in the hamstring and glut. I had to concentrate to lift my right knee with each stride and drive it straight forward instead of rolling it in, but I could do it! This pulled a bit on my sore butt but it got better as I went, confirming it just needs to be stretched a little. I didn't stumble once.
It felt great to be running! And it was very nice to find that I hadn't lost much, if any, fitness in the time I had taken off from running. The cross training I have been doing has been time consuming and difficult, but it has paid off big! After a while of running happily along the trails, Kevin stopped to ask how far I wanted to go. I was thinking about 3 or 4 miles, but he said we had already done about 6. I was in heaven out there, I could have kept going all day! We ended up doing about 10 miles. I know that's a lot for my first day back, but I would have stopped to walk at the first sign of trouble from my spine.
I am going to try to run every other day for a few weeks. I won't do any fast paced running or difficult terrain for a while. I need to concentrate on keeping my form and getting that hamstring and glut back where it belongs. If I have any symptoms from my spine I will take more time off.
Injuries are tough. Every time I get injured I think that it will be the end of my running. Running has been my passion since I was 13 or 14 years old. It's an old friend I count on to help me through tough times and to celebrate good times with. I could live without it, but I wouldn't be complete. I am one happy woman tonight!